19 January 2013

247°F 2011 - REVIEW

The world of horror has been inundated with the "trapped" plot for years. 1959 brought us House on Haunted Hill where guests were invited to a "lock in" type haunted house party. The film was later remade (1999) with the location changing to a haunted asylum. Ghost Ship 2002 (also a remake, the original being from 1952) changed things up a bit giving their cast an even bleaker outlook by trapping them on a decrepit old ship in the middle of the ocean. Alien - trapped in a space ship... in space. The Mist - trapped in a grocery store. Get the point?? All of these films allow the film maker a little more freedom with the whole of the film. The cast can wander around, discover clues, find dead bodies, etc... Once we delve into the more sinister "trapped" locations we come up with films where convincing an audience to be terrified becomes a little harder. Panic Room 2002 (back when Kristen Stewart actually had facial expressions and Jodie Foster was still straight) left a mother and daughter trapped in one single room while trying to elude the intruders in their home. Devil (eye roll) tightened things up a bit by leaving it's cast stuck in an elevator with, what else, the Devil. Buried took things way farther with the whole film being shot while Ryan Reynolds was trapped in a coffin. Can you say claustrophobic? Enjoying the film lesson?? I really could go on and on but I won't. SO, after all the places that people have been trapped in horror films is it really a surprise that we'd eventually get one that involves a sauna??

Three years after the death of her fiancé, Jenna (Scout Taylor-Compton) is convinced by her friend Renee (Christina Ulloa) to go away for the weekend to a remote lakeside cabin with her boyfriend Michael (Michael Copon) and his best friend Ian (Travis Van Winkle). After a visit from Ian's uncle Wade (Tyler Mane) and his moonshine, the quartet decides to make good use of the home made sauna for some relaxation. Jenna, who is still a medicated emotional wreck, is reluctant to join them but finally decides to forgo her daily dose, strip down to her skivvies and give it a go. Michael has hit the moonshine a little harder than everyone else and becomes "that guy" which initiates an argument with Renee. After a brief altercation between the two, Michael storms out of the sauna. When he doesn't return, the rest of them decide to go after him only to discover they've been locked in. At first they think it's a prank but when Michael fails to return and let them out, panic sets in and the heat starts to rise.

As you would expect, the acting here is pretty stellar. Taylor-Compton is great at portraying the damaged girl. She manages to bring much believability to a severely over played character type. Van Winkle goes against his usual type cast here and actually plays a good guy for once and he's convincing at it as well. Copon and Ulloa, while not the most interesting characters in the world, play well off of each other. Out of the entire cast, Mane spends the least amount of time on screen and was easily the most likable of the bunch. I know that's hard to believe considering how effective he was as Michael Myers in Rob Zombie's Halloween. Well, him and his dog... Beau (Rene Etore). Beau was GREAT!!

The film is very well lensed and there are some especially beautiful exterior shots at the beginning. Unfortunately, that's about as good as it gets for me. Directors Levan Bakhia and Beqa Jguburia do manage to sneak in a couple of intense scenes but aren't able to keep that momentum going for more than a few minutes at a time. Instead we're given a lot of unnecessary cut aways showing us what Wade is up to and where Michael has been. We're subjected to mind numbingly long flash back sequences that do nothing but negate the rest of the storyline. Going "outside" the sauna, takes away their opportunity to make this an intense, claustrophobic thriller because we get it that these people are in a desperate situation but we never really have time to feel sorry for them. Instead what we end up with is a made for TV drama that would be better suited for the Lifetime channel. What?!? It could happen... it IS based on actual events (info here). Unless you're into that kind of thing, I'd suggest skipping this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment